The Challenge of first Generation Entrepreneurial Success

We have been fed with success stories of Ugandans especially through the media every other day. Unfortunately, no one bothers to curate this information hence we can’t notice the very worrying trend.

Most ‘Success Stories’ hardly last a decade. Very few like Wavahmunno, Mulwana, Sudhir, Picfare/Radio One, Bro Group among others have withstood the test of time. Break down Uganda’s entrepreneurial space in blocks of 5 years and you will see that each block has new faces and chances are each face that disappears gets wiped out for good. 

Who remembers Front Page Microfinance? Where did the chap go (whatever his name was)? The media was always awash with stories about how much of a business genius he was. There was also this Kasulu guy who literally transformed the Property Business from backyard alley based suspicious dealers to a corporate oriented and trusted one. At his peak, he would throw UGX 50,000 on the table and journalists would break their backs running to get a slice of it (sorry bambi). Am sure you too know many such stories.

The conclusion I have come up with is that for most of us, as first generation entrepreneurs, we are likely to suffer this fate for a while to come in Uganda. We are breaking away from the tradition of holding on to an 8 – 5 job and being guaranteed of a salary as well as access to a bank loan that you can pay off in 10 years.

We are getting into a space for which we were not groomed at all. One of the cornerstones of a successful entrepreneur is Discipline in Financial, Social and other areas. Many of us start off with alot of focus and vision knowing what we want and work so hard that it hurts. We build the brands diligently until the money and accolades start coming through. That is when the distraction begins.

Due to lack of fiscal discipline (which is best learnt right from a youthful age), the spendthriftness comes in. You then find me driving a Hummer with the plates WIRE 1 and within a year, I have upto WIRE 6. At that point the women get to notice who I am and begin saying Hi with nice smiles and before you know it, there is a swimming pool of babes just a call away. That is when I realise that the Gym and Sauna are the best way to keep in shape (as if slashing my compound at home and taking walks with family can’t achieve the same). Government officials became close friends and start channeling money through my business to defraud the state while giving me a slice (Greenland Bank?). And so on and so forth. The common factor in all this is the financial haemorrhage that creeps in due to the newly acquired status.

At such a rate of progression, the business’ life starts diminishing and the public only gets to know the shit I have descended into when the Banks or URA launch their move. Before you know it, a once very loaded character is back to square one. Largely because they were not prepared psychologically for the status they attained. You grew up in hardship and was conditioned to settle for a fixed salary job, now you are commanding a position that gives you the opportunity to determine how much money to pay yourself.

On attaining this status, I have seen many men do the things that we have reserved for 18 year olds. Just read the tabloids and you will know what am talking about, all in the name of celebrity excitement. Despite having been upgraded from poverty financially, the social poverty they faced while growing up seems to weigh alot on them that they feel it is time to pay back and ‘enjoy’ [I have witnessed a top Kenyan radio entrepreneur who has this disease in it’s most severe form]. That is how they end up in the doldrums.

Failure is never final, infact I know that many of the entrepreneurs that get such knocks will in due course make a return to the limelight albeit alot wiser.

I just wanted to share with you the fact that for most of us, being first generation entrepreneurs we are likely to suffer the same knocks if we do not become wise enough earlier. We can avoid it, if only we cultivate the culture of discipline


@wirejames on Twitter

One response to “The Challenge of first Generation Entrepreneurial Success

  1. Pingback: The Challenge of first Generation Entrepreneurial Success | Watmon's Blog

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